The Story of Our Love

This week, Yiri and I celebrate nine years of marriage and ten years of being together! The funny thing is, I remember saying on our second day or so: “I’m sure that in ten years we’ll still be together, and basically still feeling for each other what we’re feeling now.” And I was right.

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These pages are from our graphic novel about Love, which came out in The Netherlands last year, and may be appearing in the US later this year…

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Happy New Year!

2018

A good new year to all!

This year’s card features a background by famous Dutch illustrator Anton Pieck – it’s a view of the Schreierstoren in Amsterdam. There’s no skating on the canals at the moment, but hey, we can dream…

Workshop

I rarely give workshops for kids anymore, but when I was invited by my local primary school for an interview with the editors of the school magazine, I thought it would be a good idea to make the event into a mini-workshop. And it worked out great!

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There were six kids and they were all so enthusiastic and creative! One of them even had made me a special drawing, with me in it!

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I had not really planned anything solid, but as soon as I drew some examples of how you can set up your own comic character, they were off…

workshop-collage

If there’s anything I like to get across about drawing comics, it’s to have FUN with it. Fun always translates. The rest is just handy tips & tricks about using thick markers so your lines are solid, adding black to make it look instantly professional, and putting jokes in.

In the meantime, they asked me questions for the school paper interview. They ranged from “Do you have hobbies beside comics?” (Yes: writing) to “Is that your real hair color?” (No).

At the end, I offered to make them all a drawing per their request – and the result reads almost like a comic:

drawings

Lots of thanks to the Rosa Boekdrukkerschool in Amsterdam and Mechteld Jansen, who helps out with the school paper and invited me to do this. It was great fun!

Proofreading

There’s much more to comics proofreading than to “normal” proofreading, as Dan Schiff, proofreader of Margreet de Heer’s graphic novels, explains.

 

 

I translate my comics from Dutch to English myself, but I would be nowhere without my trusted Californian proofreader Dan Schiff

 

 

proofreading-strip

There’s so much more to comics proofreading than to “normal” proofreading, as Dan himself explains:

 

I take the proofing seriously and think hard because I know translators will be using the English language version. I know it is easier to not go back and redo comics as a deadline approaches, so I feel I need to let Maggie know when a change might simply be a rewording to consider, of if it is a glaring error that MUST be attended to.

Although we call it the English language, British spelling (humour instead of humor), overly formal words (whilst instead of while) regional terms (biscuits instead of cookies) are swapped out for American versions of these terms.

Proofing comics includes noticing alignment of word balloons and captions to make sure they are consistent throughout the strip. It also includes noticing if the handles of the word balloons are pointing at the correct person, and if the coloring is off or not blended in a small area.

Punctuation widely varies and is the subject of passionate expression of views. Exclamation points, after much discussion, can appear singly or in sets of three, but never ever two side by side!! (Joke there!)

I argue my case for each proofing change, but The Stripmaker is the final voice, and as long as the pros and cons of my suggestions are considered, I am happy with whatever Maggie chooses to change, or leave as it is.

That‘s it. Waaaaay TMI, but picky picky is my job.”

Dan and I have been collaborating for over 15 years now, mostly with an ocean and a continent between us, but recently he came over for a European trip and we met up – that’s when Dan came up with the idea of the photo comic above, which we shot in comics store Lambiek. Apart from a dedicated proofreader, Dan is also an artist himself with a great sense of composition and humorous timing!

Looking forward to many more projects together, Dan!

 

Comic Artist Laureate of the Netherlands

I’m proud to announce that as of yesterday, I can call myself the first Stripmaker des Vaderlands, which translates to the impressive sounding Comic Artist Laureate of the Netherlands – and well, it is pretty impressive: for the next three years, I’ll be the ambassador of Dutch comics!

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I’m extremely honored to receive this task, and have been bowled over by the amount of media attention today. Who said comics are under the radar? I’m especially happy with a 5-minute item on national TV, which not only showed me being proud and drawing, but also visited a school where my comics are used, and talked to Caroline van der Lee from aaStrips Foundation which launched the initiative. I’m so happy to have such enthusiastic people supporting me! Here’s an impression:

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My ambition: to bury Holland in comics. Like this:

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I love what’s happening right now, and this weekend I’ll be at the Breda Comics Festival where I hope to talk to a lot of people, colleagues, teachers, fans… And next week I’ll probably be asleep.

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By the way, I’m also bowled over by the many congrats and encouraging words from friends and colleagues online (join me on Facebook!). Some even made me congratulatory drawings – thanks Marc ScherbateyevPeter van de Wiel and Pieter Hogenbirk!

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me

On Television

I was on Dutch TV, in a 25-minute interview that covered everything from my image of God to the upcoming Stripmaker des Vaderlands election. The program is called ‘Het Vermoeden’ and set in an old-fashioned train compartment, to facilitate guests talking about their life’s journey and the next station they expect to arrive at.

Of course, it was all done in a studio, and this is what it looked like:

studio

The interview was done by Marleen Stelling, and felt like a very pleasant, almost casual conversation about Life, the Universe and Everything:

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I was a bit nervous about how I would come across on TV – I hardly ever see myself move or talk the way others perceive me, so it was really er, interesting to watch myself. The thing that struck me most was how lively I gesticulate:

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And second, I was touched to find myself mirroring my long deceased grandfather, Hendrikus Berkhof, who was professor of Theology and would have loved to see his granddaughter carry on his legacy, in a way:

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The whole interview (in Dutch!) can be watched here.

All in all, it was a very intense and positive experience! It makes me even more confident that not only could I handle being Stripmaker des Vaderlandsvoting still open until the 30th! – , I would actually enjoy the media aspect of it.

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Because, let’s be honest here, I just love talking about myself.

And comics.

And myself in relation to comics.

Food for Thought

Two years ago, I drew comics to illustrate the 17 Global Goals, and this year, I was asked by The World’s Largest Lesson to draw a follow-up poster. It’s designed to be used in schools, introducing the Global Goals through examining what’s on your plate – literally:

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The project is neatly divided in different chunks and accompanied by handy notes for teachers – check it out on the site of The World’s Largest Lesson!

plans

All the materials are free and can be used in the age groups of 9-14 year olds – please spread the word to teachers and educators!